Am I too dumb to be an electrician? How to survive the first year of a - knoweasy

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Am I too dumb to be an electrician? How to survive the first year of an electrician apprenticeship

February 22, 2023

Author: Leb
Personal blog:


Electricians need talent, knowledge and the right spirit. They need to think independently, feel comfortable in the classroom, and have precise communication skills. It's a tough job, no doubt.

But being an electrician is also an incredibly rewarding job that can lead to a more fulfilling life for those who do it.

Have you ever considered a career as an electrician? Just like in any field, various requirements need to be met to become an electrician. There are many literal requirements - training, licensing, continuing education, etc. Beyond that, successful electricians often possess many other qualities.


Essential qualities of an electrician


A willingness to learn


Training is vital for every electrician, but not just hands-on training in the field. An electrician must be familiar with a vast amount of knowledge, so the ability to find, learn and retain that knowledge is key.

Because the physical force used by electricians on the job is so powerful (and dangerous), safety is critical. The only way to learn the practicalities of safety is through formal classroom assignments and study.

In addition to safety, most electrical apprenticeship programs take four years to complete. In Texas, this includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Many apprenticeship programs also include more than 500 hours of classroom training. Once training is complete, the apprentice must complete an application and pass a journeyman electrician exam to become a journeyman electrician.

As a result, electricians must demonstrate the ability to learn and study in a more or less academic environment.


Physical and Mental Abilities


Electricians, of course, work with electricity, and electricity is pure physics. A good electrician, then, will be interested in subjects such as math, science and physics.

In addition to intellectual aptitude, the aspiring electrician must have good hand/eye coordination and skills, as well as the ability to improve. Given the nature of electrical wiring and cabling, the electrician must also be capable of correctly identifying the color of wires. Otherwise, catastrophic consequences may ensue.


Good communication skills


Whether you plan to work independently or within an established organization, your communication skills can make or break your career as an electrician. You'll be working with a wide range of other positions and people - architects, contractors, managers, staff, etc. - so being able to communicate your ideas effectively is critical.

This means good verbal skills, excellent reading comprehension, and the ability to write down your thoughts and ideas. If your clients, supervisors and co-workers can't understand you, you'll not only struggle to get the job done, but you may also put others at risk.


Customer Service


Electricians are an extension of the company they work for (even if it is their own company). They have independence, which is essential to making electricians so good at what they do. Most of the time, however, electricians are working at the customer's job site. Whether the job is installing lighting in a school or wiring a chain of restaurants, the job site staff will usually see the electrician as they arrive and leave that day.

For this reason, it is extremely important that an electrician respects his/her surroundings, interacts with employees professionally, and performs his/her job with a spirit of excellence. An electrician's reputation goes hand in hand with the company. Anyone who sees talks to, emails or works with a customer is part of the customer experience.




Grit, determination, tenacity: all of these are necessary for an electrician. As we said before, this is a career that requires energy and independence. This means, in part, that you must have absolute perseverance to complete a difficult project.

Many pressures can affect the job - from the laws of physics to other people to the weather - and you must be able to deal with all of them without giving up.


A Safety-First Mindset


The vast majority of people in the world don't understand electricity as well as you do (or will). And the more experience you gain in the craft, the more confident you'll be with each project.

No matter how skilled you are as an electrician, safely avoiding electrically hazardous work is a key requirement. Having a safety-first mindset is a key quality, considering the dangers to you and others if procedures and precautions are not strictly followed.


How to Survive the First Year of an Electrician Apprenticeship


While my first year as an apprentice electrician will not be your experience, I did quickly find out that apprentices live at the bottom of the ladder.

If you feel like you have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, then you are not alone. Apprentices are known to bear the brunt of menial tasks and experience dismissal.


I was lucky enough to start my first day as an apprentice, working for my father. He had just spent 30 years working for Detroit Edison, our local utility provider. His love for the electrical field was so strong that he started his own electrical contracting company straight out of retirement.

I came on board as his protege. Eventually, I would earn my journeyman's license, but that was years away. Reading the steps to becoming a licensed electrician is a great place to start your journey.

Starting his business from scratch, we worked out of an empty bedroom in his house. He had a Ford Explorer stuffed from top to bottom with tools. One of my first tasks was to understand how to fit everything into that thing - and still have room for both of us!

One of the things I'm truly grateful for is the fact that my father was (and still is) a patient and kind man.

Dad was a wonderful teacher, not at all like the stereotypical "work boss" who would reprimand and belittle the new guy and yell at him when he messed up. I try to remember that because I'm a teacher now.

I'm never afraid or stupid enough to ask any questions - no matter how stupid.



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